US Strategic Approach to Africa

US Strategic Approach to Africa

Donald C. Bolduc

Strategic Concerns in Africa

The recent tragic event in Niger has brought attention to the US presence in Africa (especially that of USSOF).   This attention which highlights the “why we are in Africa now”, serves as a useful point that we are there because we have interests.  The point that is not very well explained is the importance of Africa and why it matters and why we have diplomatic, military, and other government agencies supporting our African partners and other members of the international community.  Given the lessons learned from 9-11 on preventing attacks on the homeland and US interests abroad, supporting our allies and protecting US personnel and facilities overseas should be enough to justify our presence in Africa; however, there are additional reasons why the United States should be involved in Africa and why Africa matters.  Rather than politicize an event, we must understand why Africa matters and resource the effort appropriately. 

The purpose of this paper is to address these issues.  To do so, it will first address the strategic and operational challenges that Africa poses for the US. It will then discuss the US strategic and tactical approaches toward these challenges on the continent. Last, it will conclude with an outlook for the future.  

The Challenges of Africa for the US Government

Strategic Concerns

Africa matters because an unstable Africa is not in the world’s best interest.  To keep Africa stable will require a long-term international effort and the United States has interests that require our involvement.  Our African partners and the international community will look for our leadership and resources to support this effort. 

What will an unstable 21st century Africa bring the world???  It has brought destabilization and security issues in Europe, the Levant and Middle East, Asia, and South America.  Due to weak civil administration and weak local governance in many African countries, Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) have established safe-havens and sanctuaries, to organize, conduct operations, and control territory.  This has allowed the VEOs to train, organize, equip, and support their operations, recruit and provide fighters to other areas of the world, and create socio-economic and development issues in many African countries.  Given there are 10 of the 14 Department of State designated VEOs effectively operating in Africa this should be a huge concern to the United States. 

The following additional reasons (root causes) are significant and will continue to destabilize Africa across their security and non-security ministries, local civil administration, socio-economic development, and their ability to deliver goods and services to the populace.  In Africa, the international community and the United States, will continue to face significant humanitarian, refugee, health, population, resource, and socio-economic issues that will de-stabilize the continent and require our involvement.  I estimate that with unstable governance, population growth (including a youth bulge), and humanitarian, pandemic, security, education, and employment issues, the international community has about 15 years before the violence by VEOs in Africa is the least of our worries and day to day survival over lack of resources will create unimaginable violence on the continent.

Finally, it is China’s, Russia’s, North Korea’s, and Iran’s interests in Africa that merit the United States’ concerns.  Their interests are largely strategic relationships, access, oil, precious metals and stones, and minerals and have little to do with support to African partners.  Their approach differs from our approach and makes it easier for African countries to get what they more quickly with no strings attached.  It should be noted, that it was my experience our African partners would rather work with the United States, but our bureaucratic requirements make it easier to obtain what they want via other countries.

The current and looming threat in Africa is not just an African problem.  The problems in Africa have significant global ramifications that threaten our homeland, US interests, our African partners, and our international allies and friends.   By the existence of these strategic issues there are military operational issues that emerge.  The military is only a small part of the broader solution, but nonetheless very important to the success of our African partners.

Operational Concerns

The operational importance of Africa runs across a full spectrum of military missions, operations, activities, and actions.  It is both top down (national-level) to bottom up (local-level).  These issues are comprehensive and require a whole of society approach that addresses the root causes of instability.  The root causes create problems for the populace and provide time, space, and opportunity for VEOs to operate.  One of the shortcomings of the operational approach in Africa is the environment, which is volatile due to the political, economic and security environment, and threat factors.  It is uncertain due to the impact of these factors on the drivers of instability.  It is complex due to the past and present global effects on governance, economic development, and security in Africa.  Finally, it is ambiguous because of a lack of clear policy, strategy, and the variety of interpretations of the Africa problem set. 

The VEO threat operates in a nonstate, trans-regional and trans-national, decentralized, and dispersed operational construct, exploiting and exacerbating instability in Africa.  The threat survives in ungoverned and under-governed safe-havens and sanctuaries created by ineffective governance resulting in a population that has lost hope.  The threat often has outside support, controls the populace, exploits asymmetric approaches, and leverages information operations to promulgate its ideology and implement its will.  We assess that African partners are best able to address these threats through integrated campaigning, characterized by effective commitment, cooperation, and coordination of their military operations in support of a broader political strategy that recognizes that regional problems require regional solutions.  Countering this threat to create opportunities for a comprehensive approach (whole of society) is in the common interest of U.S. policy objectives and those of our African partners.

The operational threat emanating from the Greater Middle East (including North Africa) is eroding the institutional framework of Western security.  Migrants fleeing the instability in the Greater Middle East threaten to destabilize the European Union (EU), the United States’ number one trading partner, and further undermine the stability of the European Union and the existing political order in the EU’s component countries.  When we look at security threats posed by our adversaries it is essential to assess where on the spectrum of conflict they elect to take the actions to undermine the institutions and structures that create our overwhelming strength.  In the future it’s reasonable to assume our adversaries will continue to challenge the U.S. and its allies in a similar manner below the threat of full-scale armed conflict. Transnational security threats are most difficult to combat where national institutions are weakest, where people are poorest, and conflicts most enduring. Strong governments and leaders and economically viable societies are less likely to provide terrorists and drug traffickers with material support, safe havens, or a gullible following.  In countries where governance fails, poverty prevails, and strife is the norm, we risk seeing whole countries, even regions, grow more vulnerable to the influence of our most dangerous adversaries.  Therefore, we must invest in regional partnerships with African countries along with our allies to combat these global threats before they become more pernicious and pervasive.                                    

Approach to Africa

The policy process to determine US strategic objectives in Africa are defined by National Security Council staff through an established interagency process.   This process results in tasks being assigned to the appropriate department for coordination with the Department of State (DOS), the Ambassadors and their country teams, and our African partners.  It also results in objectives that are then developed into plans that focus broadly on security, socio-economic, development, and governance concerns.  The DOS then translates those into an engagement strategy, in large part driven by the Ambassador’s Integrated Country Strategy (ICS).  AFRICOM receives a request for support from the DOS and begins a staffing process with OSD, JS, Military Services, DOS, the country team, and the African partner to develop a responsible and appropriate military support plan integrated with the appropriate interagency partners.  This is a very comprehensive process that results in DOD approval and tasking of AFRICOM to conduct the operation, mission, activity, or action require to support the African partner and the Embassy goals and objectives. 

AFRICOM then conducts their mission analysis and determines the appropriate service component (SOF, Army, Marine, Navy, Air force or combination of all) to assign the mission.  This is done through planning orders, tasking orders, and execute orders outlining the mission, resources, funding, authorities, and other mission specific requirements.  The component then turns this into operations orders and plans to support the assigned task.  In addition, there is an international coordination process with our international military partners to ensure full integration of resources and complementary effects in support of our African partners.  The tactical level units translate their actions into Concept of Operations (CONOPS) which is an established process to gain approval to conduct missions.   In AFRICA, this runs the full spectrum of Special Operation Force missions.  As of 29 June 2017, SOCAFRICA was conducting 96 missions with 886 supporting tasks, in 28 African countries with approximately XXXX SOF personnel.  The final piece of this is congressional notification and the supporting of member visits, congressional delegations, and staff delegations as part of their congressional responsibilities to the American public. The policy environment in Africa that has resulted from this approach to date is characterized by both clear policy guidance in West Africa and the Sahel and unclear policy in North, Central, and East Africa. Further complicating this environment is the fact that the United States is not at war in Africa, but the partners we support are.  In addition, the problems in Africa defy solution within a single fiscal year, or the two to four-year tour of a Geographic Combatant Command commander; such change will require at least a generation for a policy to become effective. These aspects of the situation in Africa have proven challenging for the US strategic policy process to address, with the end result being the absence of a coherent strategy to address the root causes of instability in Africa and the competition for strategic influence and relationships by the likes of China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.  My view is that we must use a strategy based on a goal of SUCCESSFUL GOVERNANCE as a baseline and building to GOOD GOVERNANCE as an enduring solution.

Tactical-Level Outlook

In Africa, I describe the operational environment as the “Gray Zone.”  Our personnel must understand and operate in the space between war and peace in a complex, volatile, uncertain and ambiguous environment — an environment of “adversarial competition with a military dimension, short of armed conflict” referred to as the “Gray Zone.”  Operating in this environment requires a human-aspects focus and long-term, integrated campaigning where gains may be measured in inches.  We must possess patience, be persistent and support our partners through presence.  By the request of our Ambassadors and our host nation partners the foot print must be small, capable of supporting partner units in remote areas, dispersed over large geographical areas, and flexible enough to support a wide range of situations. 

To support tactical level operations in Africa, it requires a regional approach and mission command construct that supports flat communications, decentralized authorities, and distributed command and control construct that is underpinned by a responsive logistics, air, and communications support construct. A key component to this framework is nested key leader engagements and relationships conducted at all levels. This supports transparency with all stakeholders and a regional comprehensive approach with a focus on understanding that we are connected by our partners and the threat, and one that leverages the SOF-Conventional force integration, our allies, and coalition partners to compliment and expand capacity. This framework is designed to effectively support our tactical level unit operations in the Gray Zone. 

Everything we do at the tactical level is intended to build the right capability and capacity, trust and interoperability, effective teams, and develop long-lasting partnerships. Our engagements support bilateral and regional relationships to address regional security problems. U.S. Chiefs of Mission manage these relationships and play a critical role in strengthening military-to-military relationships. This allows us to work effectively in a Title 22 led environment as a member of a larger team that is led and directed by the Department of State through the country teams as directed in National Security Presidential Directive 44 (NSPD 44). 

We must not replace our partner’s will with U.S. capability and capacity. Instead, we must enable our partners to conduct responsible and appropriate military operations. This approach enables and builds capability and capacity in our partners without the United States encumbering responsibility for the fight, allowing us to be in the position to better support them so that they own the problem, own the fight, and own the solution. All too often, civil administration lags behind military successes and creates a gap that exceeds military capability and capacity, negatively affecting the populace, local government and development. We need to figure this out as an international community; the solution is neither military nor unilateral. If people have no hope for the future, no job, no education, and poor government, they will find something to do (i.e., be subject to extremism/crime).

Africa may be the best example of a true Gray Zone environment anywhere in the world.  The complex, volatile, uncertain, and ambiguous environment we are tasked to operate in presents challenges that have no military solution.  Getting to ‘good governance’ across Africa will require a comprehensive, multidiscipline, multi-agency and multinational approach — this will be a generational problem set.  For our tactical teams, understanding the full spectrum of the problem, the challenges ahead and the nature of our partnerships with African nations will guide our operations in this direction for decades to come.  

Outlook in Africa

At the strategic level, the question about Africa is not “if” Violent Extremism will take root, rather how much will entrench on the continent, and how much the world is willing to risk by allowing it to occur.    

Partnership and cooperation can prevent the acceleration of instability in Africa.   Military forces will play a significant role, but they are not the solution.   Initiatives should not only focus on countering VEOs, but building security capabilities of African partner nations, and fostering long-term resolutions through diplomacy and participation of inter-agency partners.   It is only through a comprehensive, international effort focused on building functional governance from the national to local levels, that stability will be achieved. 

Socio-economic development will be critical to inhibiting the activity and influences of VEOs on the populace.   Studies indicate ideology is not a driving factor for support to violent extremism in Africa.   Polling data from Nigeria (a region plagued by both Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa branch) suggests that Islam is not driving recruitment– rather, unemployment rates are a more predictable driver of support for VEOs.  Analysts also suggest a correlation between the presence of USAID programs and lower levels of support for VEOs.   

Similarly, civil administration is vital for enabling enduring security.  Local police are an essential link in maintaining local security to protect the populace.  The establishment of local security will legitimize the government, allow for the establishment of government services and assistance from international organizations and NGOs to address education, health, and humanitarian assistance because of conflict.  

Furthermore, the international community and the U.S. government will need to relook current organizational constructs to be able to support the development of national to local governance in conflict affected regions in Africa.  Current approaches are not working, and the lack of a comprehensive approach will only support VEO objectives and goals.

Tactically, we owe the service members and civilians we send to Africa more than we are giving them to do their operations, missions, activities, and actions.  We owe them more experienced leadership, the right authorities, improved medical support, better logistical infrastructure, more air support (ISR, fixed and rotary wing), dedicated lift assets, personnel recovery assets, and a coherent strategy that supports the way we need to operate to successfully support our partners.  Our tactical level units are supporting programs to train and equip, assist civil military operations, assist their information support operations, provide intelligence training, land, sea, and air platform equipping and training, public affairs training, institutional training, and advise, assist, and accompany support.  If it was not for their creativity, imagination, initiative, and experience there would ZERO gains in Africa.

Overall, we are on a time line of about 15 years to get this just about right. Failure to do so will have significant impact on the stability in Africa and negatively impact Europe, the greater Middle East, South America, North America, and coastal security in the Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Guinea, and East Africa.

Over the years we have witnessed the devastation at the hands of an extremist ideology.   This violence will pale in comparison to the devastation brought on by day to day survival and competition for resources in an unstable environment.  This is why Africa matters now.  An unstable Africa is not in the best interest of global stability.

Author’s Note: This article is derived from the following: 1. Chairman’s Forward to the National Military Strategy. 2. Department of State Strategic Plan 2014-2017 3. Department of State Integrated Country Strategies 4. United States AFRICOM Theater Campaign Plan 5. United States Special Operations Command, Special Operating Forces Operational Concept “A White Paper to Guide Future Special Operations Force Development” 6. Special Operations Command Africa “Gray Zone Defined” 7. Special Operations Command Africa “Foundational Documents” 8. Joint Concept for Human Aspects of Military Operations, Oct 16 9. DRAFT Joint Concept for Integrated Campaigning as of Apr 17.  In addition, I would like to thank Jon Schroden, Eric Schmidt, Thom Shanker, Matt Maybauer, Jami Forbes, and Sharon Bolduc for their assistance in the development of this article.

References

Middle East Eye, online publication, 9 MAR 2017, “IS Must Be Tackled In Africa and Syria After Mosul: Iraqi Minister.”  http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/fight-against-must-continue-africa-and-syria-after-mosul-iraq-deputy-fm-1404925258.

Reuters Foundation, online publication, 16 JAN 2017, “Surge of African Migrants Brave Latin American Jungle Trek for American Dream.” http://news.trust.org/item/20170116100454-0d4x0/

Atlantic Council, online publication, 29 MAR 2017, “Terrorism in North Africa, An Examination of the Threat,” Prepared Statement Before the US House of Representatives.   http://docs.house.gov/meetings/HM/HM05/20170329/105759/HHRG115-HM05-Wstate-PhamJ-20170329.pdf

Foreign Policy, online publication, 7 APR 2016, “Morocco’s Outlaw Country is the Heartland of Global Terrorism.”  http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/04/07/the-rif-connection-belgium-brussels-morocco-abdeslam/

UN Population Division, World Population Prospects 2015 Edition, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Download/Standard/Population/

The Telegraph, online publication, 11 MAR 2016, “What Africa Will Look Like in 100 Years.”   http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/Africa-in-100-years/

Associated Press, “Mali Al-Qaida’s Sahara Playbook.” (U) France 24, online publication, 3 MAR 2017, “Three Jihadi Groups in Mali Announce Merger,” http://www.france24.com/en/20170303-three-jihadi-groups-mali-announce-merger-al-qaeda

The Guardian, online publication, 06 OCT 2001, “Osama, The Sudan Years.”  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/17/afghanistan.terrorism3

Atlantic Council, online publication, 29 MAR 2017, “Terrorism in North Africa, and Examination of the Threat,”  Prepared Statement for the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, http://docs.house.gov/meetings/HM/HM05/20170329/105759/HHRG-115-HM05-Wstate-PhamJ-20170329.pdf /

Soufan Group, online publication, 7 October 2014, “ Foreign Fighters From North Africa in Iraq and Syria.” http://www.soufangroup.com/tsg-intelbrief-foreign-fighters-from-north-africa-in-syria-and-iraq/

Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2016, “Tunisia, Radicalism at Abroad and at Home.” http://foreignfighters.csis.org/tunisia/why-tunisia.html

Washington Times, online publication, 14 September 2016, “Arab Spring Star Tunisia Emerges as Islamic State’s No. 1 Source for Foreign Fighters,” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/14/tunisia-emerges-as-isiss-no-1-sourcefor-foreign-f/

US Department of Defense, “Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Coalition Airstrike Against Boubaker al-Hakim,” https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/102...

 

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Since we are talking about the "US Strategic Approach to Africa" here, why don't we take a look at the Trump National Security Strategy and, therein, the part that addresses Africa:

EXCERPT:

ECONOMIC: We will expand trade and commercial ties to create jobs and build wealth for Americans and Africans. We will work with reform-oriented governments to help establish conditions that can transform them into trading partners and improve their business environment. We will support economic integration among African states. We will work with nations that seek to move beyond assistance to partnerships that promote prosperity. We will offer American goods and services, both because it is profitable for us and because it serves as an alternative to China’s often extractive economic footprint on the continent.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-20... (See Pages 52 and 53. In the excerpt above, take special care to note the words "transform them into trading partners ...")

Now: Compare the above, for example, to my comments below.

Thus:

a. If one wishes to consider such things as the reason why -- as Alex Frank notes in his comment below -- "our center of gravity must be to tie the traditional clan structures to the central government" (in Africa and elsewhere in the less-modern/less-western world),

b. Then, I suggest, one needs to look no further than the U.S./Western goal of (a) transforming the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western lines and, thereby, (b) better providing for the wants, needs and desires of U.S./Western states and their societies. (And the wants, needs and desires of the Africa people also; but these, it would seem, to be determined -- not by the African, etc., people themselves -- but, rather, by the U.S./the West?)

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

Alex Frank -- below -- suggests that "the idea is not to debate neomarxist assertions about neocolonialism. You can argue that until you are blue in the face which is silly for professionals."

However, given the portion of the Trump NSS strategy that I provide above, if not "neomarxists assertions about neocolonialism" (whatever those may be), do professionals not have a responsibility -- and indeed a sacred duty -- to consider, study, explore, debate, etc., for example, "the type of war that they are embarked upon; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature?"

If so, then I humbly suggest that one may, indeed, wish to consider (a) my Callwell, Schumpeter, Kipling, Tillman, FDR, etc., discussions below, (b) my consistent addressing of the issue of "transformation" (as confirmed now by the Trump NSS above?) and (c) the potential relevance of these matters to what our current professionals are required to do in the field today.

How about taking special care to examine whole sentences, rather than cherry-picking words? Although I commend you for quoting the whole paragraph. Break it down:

"We will expand trade and commercial ties to create jobs and build wealth for Americans and Africans." Could be interpreted as sending Milo Minderbinder to invade African countries and take over their economies, but more likely just expresses the intent to take advantage of opportunities offered for trade and business.

"We will work with reform-oriented governments to help establish conditions that can transform them into trading partners and improve their business environment." Uh-oh...it has that magic "transform" word...maybe we were wrong, and there is a secret plan to send in M&M.... More likely, it means exactly what it says: we'll work with governments that want to voluntarily (that is, of their own choosing) adapt their economies to work with ours. Says nothing about forcing "alien and profane ideas" on economies, societies, or cultures.

"We will support economic integration among African states." Hmm...sounds vaguely socialist. Or could just mean that the strategy-makers see potential benefit to African states voluntarily (that is, not forcibly) forming an economic cooperative. After all, it worked for Europe (mostly).

"We will offer American goods and services, both because it is profitable for us and because it serves as an alternative to China’s often extractive economic footprint on the continent." Well, one wouldn't expect us to offer Chinese or European goods and services, right?

Taken as a whole, it's a fairly generic statement of intent to trade with anyone willing to trade with us.

The goal of any U.S. National Security Strategy is to "better provide for the wants, needs and desires of the U.S. and its society." Otherwise, we'd call it an insecurity strategy. But this offers no more proof than any of the other thin gruel you've served up. Globalization is an integral part of human history -- exchange of material, information, ideas, and culture started when two tribes bumped into one another. A strategy built on offering opportunities for exchange is not proof of a U.S. conspiracy to "transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western lines".

Question:

If:

The goal of any U.S. National Security Strategy is -- yesterday as today -- to better provide for the wants, needs and desires of the U.S. and its society,

Then:

Given this enduring requirement, is the U.S. -- yesterday or today -- limited to working only with those states and societies who, minus coercion, are willing to work with us on, for example, on a "voluntary" basis; this, as relates to such things as trade and business related matters?

(Before answering, we might wish to consider that, if this indeed is the case, then this would seem to provide that a competitor state -- one who WAS willing to use massive coercion to achieve its ends -- that this such state would, very quickly it would seem,, come to see the U.S. in its rear view mirror. Yes?)

In general, then, to suggest that your notion, to wit: that "taken as a whole, it is a fairly generic statement of intent to trade with anyone willing to trade with us;" that this such notion is rather naive. Yes?

Thus:

If we:

a. Properly add "coercion" -- to the "so as to better provide for the wants, needs and desires of the U.S. and its society" equation -- and, accordingly,

b. Properly remove the naive (and exceptionally limiting) notion of "voluntary" -- from this exact such equation --

Then: Is my argument above, thereby, better understood/validated?

If you have to modify the NSS to make it support your conclusions, then your argument is pretty weak isn't it?

We don't coerce economic cooperation. We provide "economic incentives". :) Seriously, though, you're now trying to make the argument that any cooperation or relationship with the U.S. and the West in general is forcing societal transformation on unwilling countries. You're treating this as a zero-sum game -- that which benefits us means others or forced -- involuntarily -- to adopt our ways across the board. And you're further arguing that this is a deliberate strategy. There's just no support for that, other than what you've conjured up from snippets drawn out of context in various places.

From then-National Security Advisor Anthony Lake's introduction to the 1993 Clinton National Security Strategy -- that of "Engagement and Enlargement:"

BEGIN QUOTE

The expansion of market-based economics abroad helps expand our exports and create American jobs, while it also improves living conditions and fuels demands for political liberalization abroad. The addition of new democracies makes us more secure because democracies tend not to wage war on each other or sponsor terrorism. They are more trustworthy in diplomacy and do a better job of respecting the human rights of their people.

These dynamics lay at the heart of Woodrow Wilson's most profound insights; although his moralism sometimes weakened his argument, he understood that our own security is shaped by the character of foreign regimes. Indeed, most Presidents who followed, Republicans and Democrats alike, understood we must promote democracy and market economics in the world -- because it protects our interests and security; and because it reflects values that are both American and universal.

Throughout the Cold War, we contained a global threat to market democracies; now we should seek to enlarge their reach, particularly in places of special significance to us.

The successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement -- enlargement of the world's free community of market democracies.

During the Cold War, even children understood America's security mission; as they looked at those maps on their schoolroom walls, they knew we were trying to contain the creeping expansion of that big, red blob.

Today, at great risk of oversimplification, we might visualize our security mission as promoting the enlargement of the "blue areas" of market democracies. The difference, of course, is that we do not seek to expand the reach of our institutions by force, subversion or repression.

END QUOTE

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/lakedoc.html

(Of course, after 9/11, the gloves would come off; this, given our determination that the "use of force," etc.; this might now be necessary -- this, so as to [a] adequately advance market-democracy throughout the world and to, thereby, [b] adequately provide for our national security?)

Well said Warlock. You point to a major problem with Neomarxist ideology. It makes incredible assumptions and leaps of faith.

Alex:

You seem to know a great deal more about "neomarxist ideology," etc., than I do.

As to such things as "tie(ing) the traditional clan structures to the central government" -- in Africa and elsewhere in the less-modern/less-western world -- is it:

a. "Neomarxist ideology" that drives this train or

b. Something more akin to the FDR philosophy quote I provided earlier?

(If, indeed, these are, in fact, different from one another.)

BEGIN FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT QUOTE

Imperialists don't realize what they can do, what they can create! They've robbed this continent (Africa) of billions, and all because they are too short-sighted to understand that their billions were pennies, compared to the possibilities! Possibilities that MUST include a better life for the people who inhibit this land.

END QUOTE

(Note: FDR, here and elsewhere I believe, telling us that he was an avid -- and, in fact, livid -- anti-imperialist?)

Herein, in these and/or in other such cases, and as to such things as the requirement to "tie the traditional clan structures to the central government" -- in Africa and elsewhere in the less-modern/less-western world -- it being exceptionally important for professions to consider, study, explore, debate, etc., these such "what drives the train" matters and to, thereby, come to understand "the kind of war they are embarked upon?"

Several African states are moderate Islamic nations. Ghana only recently foined the list Bensouda their former chief Justice worked to change their laws to Sharia now she works for the ICC to investigate the Afghanistan Army's use of underage soldiers. Guinea and other nations have moderate forms of Islam as long as the minorities are submissive.
Africa is considered one of the most dangerous places to travel without the Egyptian and Libyan turmoil of the past decade.
Liberia the Ivory Coast, E Coli outbreaks that is a major problem in much of Africa but not reaching epidemic levels blood diamonds, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, Factional wars between tribalism and Islam are equally as violent or more than attitudes towards post colonial periods.
Both the West and the Ottoman Empires exploited the African man power pool with little or no intention to develop anything else but precious metals.
The problem is African nationalism has seen a series of dictators rise and fall while contributing little to nothing better, Taure, Idi Amin, Quadaffi, Bokassa with a potpouri of socialist values and anti-isms and ego mania.
I'll tel you what publish a paper that analyzes how successful President Obama's attempts to get Josef and end the terror of the Lord's Resistance Army Obama got funding and approval fro Congress operations were totally legit, what was the outcome, when did they get that guy?
Or how about Michelle's promise to get the "girls" back from Boko Haram? 50% are dead from a variety of causes rape marriages being one. But we didn't get any of those girls back.
Morsi?
Benghazi?
Even the manner in which Mogadishu is remembered would make it seem that not only are we stumbling badly to achieve anything or we simply can not find means to achieve hopeful progress
Relativism might give us a hint why we are having such a difficult time seeming to grasp the situations and rendering effective assistance that will make a difference. More than simple anthropological speak about not properly understanding tribal peoples and the complexities of their society confronting radical Islamic groups and emerging from post colonial phobias. An expression of which might be made difficult over concepts of private ownership, and old feelings of tribe before state it might find expression in the feeling the government should redistribute the wealth on a dollar to dollar basis to each citizen without regard of how that might in turn cause inflationary trends and achieve less than more. If you have served abroad in a country stuck in neutral even with abundant resources and seems to be making no head way for lack of education and leadership you know the frustration it can breed. And all the time I wonder if things are that bad, it can't be that bad maybe I'm just wrong.

Several African states are moderate Islamic nations. Ghana only recently foined the list Bensouda their former chief Justice worked to change their laws to Sharia now she works for the ICC to investigate the Afghanistan Army's use of underage soldiers. Guinea and other nations have moderate forms of Islam as long as the minorities are submissive.
Africa is considered one of the most dangerous places to travel without the Egyptian and Libyan turmoil of the past decade.
Liberia the Ivory Coast, E Coli outbreaks that is a major problem in much of Africa but not reaching epidemic levels blood diamonds, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups, Factional wars between tribalism and Islam are equally as violent or more than attitudes towards post colonial periods.
Both the West and the Ottoman Empires exploited the African man power pool with little or no intention to develop anything else but precious metals.
The problem is African nationalism has seen a series of dictators rise and fall while contributing little to nothing better, Taure, Idi Amin, Quadaffi, Bokassa with a potpouri of socialist values and anti-isms and ego mania.
I'll tel you what publish a paper that analyzes how successful President Obama's attempts to get Josef and end the terror of the Lord's Resistance Army Obama got funding and approval fro Congress operations were totally legit, what was the outcome, when did they get that guy?
Or how about Michelle's promise to get the "girls" back from Boko Haram? 50% are dead from a variety of causes rape marriages being one. But we didn't get any of those girls back.
Morsi?
Benghazi?
Even the manner in which Mogadishu is remembered would make it seem that not only are we stumbling badly to achieve anything or we simply can not find means to achieve hopeful progress
Relativism might give us a hint why we are having such a difficult time seeming to grasp the situations and rendering effective assistance that will make a difference. More than simple anthropological speak about not properly understanding tribal peoples and the complexities of their society confronting radical Islamic groups and emerging from post colonial phobias. An expression of which might be made difficult over concepts of private ownership, and old feelings of tribe before state it might find expression in the feeling the government should redistribute the wealth on a dollar to dollar basis to each citizen without regard of how that might in turn cause inflationary trends and achieve less than more. If you have served abroad in a country stuck in neutral even with abundant resources and seems to be making no head way for lack of education and leadership you know the frustration it can breed. And all the time I wonder if things are that bad, it can't be that bad maybe I'm just wrong.

Taking on a large scale view of Africa is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. This article does it well. It points to the importance of Africa strategically and, to accomplish the resulting strategic goals, the necessity for whole of government operations. I think the other reviewers miss the point. The idea is not to debate Neomarxist assertions about neocolonialism. You can argue that until you are blue in the face which is silly for professionals. Of course, we must know how to rebut Marxist academics, but we should not let their weird ideological claims distract us. Similarly, the article does not write Africa off or argue everything is going to hell. Its aims are the far more humble exploration of Africa's importance and what to do about it.

That being said, I would have like more specificity over what building governance means in Africa. I get the impression that conflicts happens in dissociated clans. So, our center of gravity must be to tie the traditional clan structures to the central government. This is how government evolved anyways; centralized bureaucracies did not sprout up when Max Weber snapped his fingers. We do this through mechanisms similar to the ALP/VSO; whole of government clan level embed teams.

Not sure if this meets the criteria of "neomarxist assertions about neocolonialism," but it does seem to relate to our topic here, to wit: the U.S. strategic approach to Africa (etc.?):

BEGIN FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT QUOTE

Imperialists don't realize what they can do, what they can create! They've robbed this continent (Africa) of billions, and all because they are too short-sighted to understand that their billions were pennies, compared to the possibilities! Possibilities that MUST include a better life for the people who inhibit this land.

END QUOTE

(From Niall Ferguson's "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire.")

Thus to use FDR's thoughts above as (a) "a far more humble exploration of Africa's importance" and, if not this, then at least (b) "what to do about it?"

Note that FDR here, much like Callwell, et al., below, does not seem to blame the local governments and/or the local populations -- for example via terms such as "weak, failed, failing, etc., states" -- this, for the fact that their states and societies, as yet, had not been, shall we say, "modernized?" (This, whether these states and societies, themselves, even wished to be "modernized;" that question then -- much like today and now even with anti-modernization[?] terrorism on the rise -- does not seem to dominate either [a] the thought process and/or [b] the conversion.)

Thus, such things as the requirement to "tie the traditional clan structures to the central government;" this should be seen more in FDR's:

a. "Billions were pennies, compared to the possibilities!" terms? And/or more in FDR's:

b. "Possibilities that MUST include a better life for the people who inhibit this land" terms? (Herein, generally ignoring what significant segments of the populations, themselves, may view as "a better life"/"the good life?")

(Again, I have no idea whether FDR's thoughts above meet the criteria of "neomarxist assertions about neocolonialism." But they do seem to relate to our "U.S. strategic approach to Africa" topic here. Yes?)

Alex,

I mostly agree with the below notion, but think the brief analysis is a bit off.

BEGIN QUOTE:

"So, our center of gravity must be to tie the traditional clan structures to the central government.

"We do this through mechanisms similar to the ALP/VSO; whole of government clan level embed teams."

END QUOTE

In this case it seems the COGs (tangible entities wielding power) are the central government and security cooperation and/or FID partner(s).

The VSOs are critical requirements delivered by a critical capability called Special Forces. They have the [ability to] wage unconventional warfare through indigenous or surrogate actors. I realise designated conventional forces fill some of these roles too (ANSDF training and implementation).

All of these critical factors, no matter the efficacy will fail absent an effective strategy.

The question is what strategy and COG analysis can effect an environment where traditional clan structures cannot be "tied" to the central government. That cannot be the only solution to a complex system of problems.

Sure, I did not intend to lay out a full blown OPORD. VSO is excellent because it embeds many capabilities at a low level. Of course it will look different in Africa, but we need some sense of what we are about.

Should we consider "instability," in Africa and indeed elsewhere today,

a. More in -- imperial -- "Scramble for Africa," etc., terms --
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scramble_for_Africa -- and less in, for example:

b. Weak, failed, failing, etc., states terms?

Thus, "instability" -- in Africa and elsewhere today -- to be understood more in the terms of foreign great nation intervention and/or foreign great nation competition and, thus, more in the terms addressed here:

a. C.E. Callwell: "Small wars are a heritage of extended empire, a certain epilogue to encroachments into lands beyond the confines of existing civilization and this has been so from the early ages to the present time. The great nation which seeks expansion in remote quarters of the globe must accept the consequences. Small wars dog the footsteps of the pioneers of civilization in the regions afar off."

https://www.amazon.com/Small-Wars-Their-Principles-Practice/dp/1438513887 (See Chapter II: The Causes of Small Wars.)

b. Joseph Schumpeter: "Where cultural backwardness of a region makes normal economic intercourse dependent on colonization, it does not matter, assuming free trade, which of the civilized nations undertakes the task of colonization." (Or, today, the task of "modernization?")

(Item in parenthesis here is mine.)

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/themes/peace/doyle/ And:

c. Rudyard Kipling: American Senator Benjamin Tillman, in discussing the Philippine Insurgency (to which Kipling's "White Man's Burden" specifically speaks?) would address the U.S. Senate on February 7, 1899, would read aloud three stanzas of “The White Man’s Burden” and suggest that U.S should renounce claim of authority over the Philippine Islands. To that effect, Senator Tillman asked:

"Why are we bent on forcing upon them a civilization not suited to them, and which only means, in their view, degradation and a loss of self-respect, which to them is worse than the loss of life itself? ... The commercial instinct which seeks to furnish a market and places for the growth of commerce or the investment of capital for the money making of the few is pressing this country madly to the final and ultimate annexation of these people -- regardless of their own wishes."

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/gilded/empire/text7/tillman.pdf

Bottom Line Question -- Based on the Above:

If C.E. Callwell, Joseph Schumpeter and Rudyard Kipling were alive today, do we think these such luminaries would suggest that "instability," in Africa and indeed elsewhere today, that this such "instability" was to due to "weak, failed, failing, etc., states?"

Or do we believe these such famous figures -- today as they clearly did during their own time -- would attribute "instability," in Africa and indeed elsewhere, more to foreign great nation expansion/foreign great nation imperialism/foreign great nation competition?

(Herein, Callwell, Schumpeter and Kipling being much more likely to suggest that significantly greater foreign great nation involvement in Africa -- and, for example, in the Greater Middle East and elsewhere today -- THIS rather than "weak, failed, failing, etc., states" was, and indeed is, the "root cause" of such things as [a] the exponential rise in the number of "violent extremists organizations" in the world today, and for the massive increase in refugee flows that we are experiencing now? Herein, Callwell being more likely to tell us to "man up," not blame others [and especially not the "natives"] and, as he specifically does above, "face the consequences" of our own actions?)

Bottom Line Question: when will you come up with a contemporary, official strategy document -- as opposed to Wikipedia, op-ed articles, academic papers, and books written by people who have not served within the U.S. government, let alone making U.S. strategy?

No doubt Callwell, Schumpter, Kipling, and Tillman would agree that the haphazard division of territory amongst the colonial powers during their era is largely responsible for continuing turmoil in both Africa and to a lesser extent, the Middle East, and we're continuing to reap the results of that today.

Will this suffice?

https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/209377.pdf

If not, then can you help out and provide us with something that, you feel, is more accurate and/or more proper to our needs? (Cannot be too new as, then, the ability to discuss "cause and effect;" this would not be possible.)

Note: In invoking Callwell, Schumpter, Kipling and Tillman above -- and although the point you make re: earlier imperialism is relevant -- in fact:

a. I am not trying to show that the activities undertaken on these folks watch (Callwell's, etc.); that this was and/or is the "root cause" of our problems today. (Problems, for example, such as the dramatic and recent increase in the number of violent extremists organizations in the world today, and/or, the dramatic and recent increase in refugee crises -- both such problems noted by me in my initial comment above). Rather,

b. What I am suggesting is that our contemporary, our post-Cold War agenda and efforts -- in Africa, in the Greater Middle East and elsewhere (for example, to advance/promote market-democracy; see the linked document that I have provide immediately above) -- THESE more recent and more contemporary efforts, I am suggesting, are the "root cause" of our problems today.

Again, the -- enduring -- Callwell, et al., thesis would seem to be:

a. If a foreign great nation feels that it has "interests" in outlying states, societies, civilizations and/or regions. And

b. If the foreign great nation feels that it must intervene there -- this, so as to better pursue/defend/ achieve its such "interests."

(For example, by "colonizing," "modernizing," "westernizing," etc., these outlying states and societies; this, so as to better provide for the wants, needs and desires of the foreign great nation's own state, societies and civilization.)

c. Then, in instances such as these, the foreign great nations must:

1. "Face the consequences" of their own such decisions and related actions.

(Consequences which, as we note today, may include an exponential increase in violent extremist organizations in the world, massive and near unprecedented refugee flows and, in general, "instability" on very large scale indeed.) And

2. Not blame the native governments and/or the native populations (for example, via such, exceptionally contemporary, ideas/terms as "weak, failed, failing, etc., states.").

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

In general, what Callwell, Schumpeter, Kipling, etc., would seem to be telling us is that:

a. "Revolts and insurrections;" these are simply the -- exceptionally well-known --

b. "Cost of doing business;" these such "costs" to be expected when foreign great nations intervene, in foreign lands, so as to:

c. Pursue/defend/achieve their perceived "interests" there.

(And, thus, the "revolts, insurrections, etc." -- that result from these such foreign great nation interventions -- these being something that Callwell, Schumpeter, Kipling, etc. -- in their day at least -- were not inclined to blame the natives for?)

"Will this suffice?
https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/209377.pdf"

Yes! That's wonderful!

So look at the language throughout: "Promote". "Bolster". "Encourage". There's no denying we think highly of our system and our way of life. However, there's nothing in this strategy (or any other U.S. strategy) that sends us out on a crusade to convert the world into our image.

Callwell and others wrote from the point of view of colonial powers who exercised control directly or through installed proxies. In many cases, those proxies were chosen *because* they needed external backing to maintain them in power (insuring their loyalty), which is why so many were deposed when the European powers divested their colonies during the '50s and '60s. That's quite a bit different than the modern image of a weak or failed state which can't/won't generate a government acceptable to enough of the population to stand on it's own. Some of that is facilitated by the old colonial/mandate borders, but not all. And it's not just former European colonies subject to that -- China fit the model of a weak state for a good century or so before WWII.

Warlock: Above you said:

"However, there's nothing in this strategy (or any other U.S. strategy) that sends us out on a crusade to convert the world into our image."

In this regard, consider the following:

BEGIN QUOTE FROM CURRENT BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:

This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.

END QUOTE

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/theresa-may-donald-trump-...

This thought, by the current British Prime Minister, provided to the world as recently as January 2017; this would seem to indicate that either:

a. The U.S. and Great Britain DID have a strategy, consistent with the above-stated policy, that, in fact, DID "send us out on a crusade to convert the world in our own image." Or that:

b. The U.S. and Great Britain embarked on these such activities in contradiction to, and/or in violation of, some other U.S. and Great Britain policy and related strategy. (Policies and related strategies that DID NOT provide for -- and/or DID NOT allow -- that the U.S and/or Great Britain might so intervene?)

Am I reading this right?

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

The above declaration by the current British Prime Minister; this would seem to support my continuing assertion that:

a. Not weak, failed, failing, etc., states were/are the root cause of such massive instability as we see in the world today but, rather, that:

b. The U.S./the West's efforts, to transform outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines; THIS was and is the root cause of these such dangerous and horrific outcomes.

(Thus, to understand our decision to abandon these such "convert the world in our own image" policies and related strategies; policies and relates strategies which -- in order to be so formally abandoned -- would, indeed, seem to need to exist/to have existed?)

Question: If "transformation" -- of the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines -- if this is no longer to be the manner by which we will pursue our "interests" -- in places such as Africa -- then what "intervention" model will we now use; this, to pursue/achieve/defend our such interests?

c. The U.S. and Great Britain embarked on these such activities as an outcome of some other U.S. and Great Britain policy, and related strategy.

I've said before, we didn't go into Afghanistan to transform the country -- we went in to oust the Taliban and the terrorists they were sheltering. We didn't go into Iraq to transform the country -- we went in because of a perception that they were rebuilding their WMD capabilities, and because the status quo of maintaining containment from Saudi Arabia was no longer workable.

The U.S. has never bought into the old colonial concept of "butcher and bolt," though...we're compelled to try and leave a war zone in better shape than it was when we arrived, and we tend to reconstruct things in a familiar form. It's not part of deliberate policy or strategy to "westernize"...it's inertia. Were it deliberate strategy, it would be more coherent.

Likewise, AQ didn't come after us because of our reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our contribution to "massive instability" has been in removing some of the constraints holding factional conflicts in check...we didn't invent those conflicts, nor are we responsible for the inability of different factions to work together or to bury the hatchet somewhere besides each other's back. However, as any parent trying to adjudicate an argument between siblings (or a police officer responding to a domestic disturbance) will tell you, the "bad guy" in any three-way altercation is always the one trying to make the two rowdies calm down....

Warlock:

The current British Prime Minister, above, does appear to state that a policy of intervening in sovereign countries -- this, in an attempt to remake the world in the West's own image -- that this such policy (a) did exist, (b) was applied in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, (c) had failed and, therefore, (d) now had been formally abandoned -- this, by both the United States and Great Britain.

In this regard, why do we think that the British Prime Minister pointedly does not -- as you do above -- discuss/address "other" policies and related strategies?

Does Theresa May simply not know what she is talking about?

(And President Trump also; this, given that he is said to [a] be moving in this exact same direction and [b] for this exact same reason?)

I think politicians' speeches are worth what you pay for them, and these days, their primary purpose is to make their predecessor and/or opposition party look bad, vice provide a verifiably accurate picture of what did happen, is happening, and why.

My *opinion* (based on experience and observation, but still only worth what you paid for it) is that these transformation activities are real, but rather than result of a deliberate policy to "westernize the world", they're a collateral effect of other, policy-driven, activities described earlier, or the inevitable result of the exchange of ideas and concepts that's part of globalization.

Double post

This article covers a lot of ground, but fails to cover the scale of the challenge, and the amount of resources required to reverse the troubling trends in parts of Africa. Fortunately, not all of the continent's 50 plus countries are in a nose dive towards greater instability, in some cases like Nigeria there are parts of the country that are unstable, and other parts like Lagos where the economy is booming.

Frankly I think too many military officers and politicians (whose views are also shaped by their constituents) are too quick to write Africa off. Their views are biased by legacy perceptions about Africa, some based on reality, some not. On on hand, it is easy to assume there is simply no hope, thus investing resources into the continent of Africa is politically taboo. On the other hand, the risk associated with not investing in Africa is to often dismissed.

The problems and risks associated with ignoring the region are greater than violent extremism. While terrorism is a real problem in parts of Africa, it arguably isn't the greatest threat to U.S. and Western interests. First, instability in parts of Africa and the associated lack of security (not always due to terrorists) has resulted in a massive of migration that threatens the identify of many European countries. Liberal democracies based on Judeo-Christian values face a moral dilemma when it comes to dealing with the illegal immigration tsunami. If the West wants to slow, stop, or ideally reverse the trend in a way that aligns with their values, they will have to invest, and invest wisely in Africa to improve conditions. With the unemployed youth bulge the situation will get worse. Second, China's growing investment in Africa will most likely further destabilize it, because their investments are largely self-serving and exploitive. They support corrupt governments who willingly do China's bidding for a price. For long term stability is imperative that Western countries become the partner of choice for African nations. Third, is the extremist threat already addressed in the article.

A new approach is needed, and based on the scale of the problem it is imperative that Western nations reach a consensus on burden sharing and a way forward to support our African partners. Hopefully we are past the days of the French trying to undermine every U.S. stability initiative because they still wanted to treat various African countries as their sovereign territory. The French and other European countries will have more influence if they treat these nations as partners versus pawns in a game of competitive influence. Rather than investing most heavily in troubled areas, maybe an economic oil spot strategy would be more appropriate, where we invest in the economic hot spots, and attempt to expand them out, while trying to mitigating the threat in the areas already destabilized.

The author points out unpleasant realities for Western leaders who may prefer to wish the problems in Africa away. That will prove to be increasingly difficult as more and more problems from the region land on their doorstep.